Reading Questions for The Peep Diaries
About this book: The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors by Hal Niedzviecki ntroduces the arrival of the Peep culture age and explores its implications on entertainment, society, sex, politics, and everyday life. Mixing first-rate reporting with sociological observations culled from the latest research, this book captures the shift from pop to peep and the way technology is turning gossip into documentary and peeping toms into entertainment journalists. Packed with stranger-than-fiction true-life characters and scenarios, The Peep Diaries reflects the aspirations and confusions of the growing number of people willing to trade the details of their private lives for catharsis, attention, and notoriety.
1. What do you think of Niedzviecki's thesis that we've gone from a pop culture—a society obsessed with celebrities—to a "Peep culture," turning, instead, to other people's private lives (friends, neighbors, strangers, celebrities) as our entertainment?
2. Does Peep culture eliminate the need for "real" celebrities? When an individual can rise to fame in a matter of hours on the Internet, what is lost? Is the democratization of celebrity a good thing, or do we still need cultural gate-keepers?
3. Were there any blogs or web sites that Niedzviecki writes about which you think an online community might benefit from? If so, why?
4. In the book, Niedzviecki discusses the rise of surveillance within Peep culture, such as Nanny cams and police surveillance cameras. Does technology make you feel safer? When do these techniques of surveillance cross the line and become invasive?
5. Niedzviecki says the central question we all struggle with in Peep culture is, "How much of yourself will you give away and what will you be left with?" How would you answer this question? Are there certain aspects of yourself or your family you would never reveal to the public eye, no matter the price?
6. What do you think about the examples of "shaming" websites and online videos Niedzviecki gives as examples in the book, such as WomanSavers.com, TheBadBoyfriendClub.ning.com and DontDateHimGirl.com, where users post "lists of guys and girls accused of being psychopaths, liars, abusers, and cheats"? What are the ethics of Peep here? Do you think the Internet can be useful in encouraging people to behave better, for fear of public exposure and humiliation?
7. Did you feel that Niedzviecki experimented with enough online sites and various surveillance methods to prove his points? Had you hoped he'd try something else? If so, what?